Birding at the Chico

The Chico Basin Ranch is a major flyway for migratory birds, due to the abundant springs, lakes and bird habitat on the ranch. The ranch works closely with Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and has over 300 birds on the ranch bird list. Many people come to the ranch in the spring and fall to bird.

Bill Maynard is one of birders that comes most frequently. When we asked him if he would keep the ranch birding journal, he was pleased and agreed to do it. Thank you Bill! Bill has taught high school biology, worked as a naturalist for the National Park Service and as a biologist for a variety of government agencies. He has also worked for the American Birding Association at their national headquarters in Colorado Springs. 

Click Here to download the Ranch Bird Checklist

Click Here to download the Birding Trail Map (4mb PDF)

Click Here to download the Ranch Dragonfly and Damselfly Checklist

Coloration Abnormalities in Feathers
Three different species?  Of course not.  They are all the abundant fall migrant, Wilson's Warbler.  First look at the bird on the right.  The broad crown area with black feathers identifies the bird as a male.  The bird in the center, without any noticeable black, is a female.  What about the bird on the left?  Photograph is by Bill Schmoker.
Leucism is a genetic mutation that prevents melanin from being deposited normally on feathers. Leucism comes in two main types — paleness or an equal reduction of melanin in all feathers, and pied, an absence of melanin in some feathers creating white patches.  It appears that the bird on the left, exhibits both forms of leucism, a reduction of melanin in all feathers making it lighter than the other two warblers, and there are white patches on the tips of the tertials, and at least on the outer primaries tips.
Posted by Bill M. on 09/12/2009

Bird Banding Is Educational
Each spring and fall, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, funded by Chico Basin Ranch, operates a bird banding station inside a large riparian grove at The Chico.  Although I have been looking at birds for 30 years, I always learn something from the excellent instruction about the birds that are caught and banded here.  It is a great spot for a family to get outside and learn together about bird identification, bird topography, bird migration, molt, sexual dimorphism; and you might see something you have never seen before. 

Aaron and Sarah Driscoll from Colorado Springs visited the banding station today for the first time. Sarah photographed most of the birds and was permitted to release some too, this one a Wilson's Warbler.  Photo courtesy of Bryan Patrick, American Birding Association.
Posted by Bill M. on 09/12/2009

Finally - Migration in full swing

Migration pressure increased as weak cold fronts pushed through the state.  Based on Rocky Mountain Banding results, the widespread migrant, Wilson's Warbler, was the must abundant migrant.  As usual, birders come to the Chico to look for rarities.  Yesterday, a Great Crested Flycatcher, an eastern species breeding west into eastern Colorado was found at the Chico headquarters area. 

Photo is courtesy of Brian Gibbons.

One of the best looking of warblers, Townsend's Warbler, were also seen around Holmes Ranch House and at least one was banded.  Many sparrows including Lark Bunting, Chipping, Clay-colored, Brewer's, Lincoln's, Vesper, and Lark Sparrows were common in the weedy parts of the ranch.   What will be seen tomorrow?

Posted by Bill M. on 09/12/2009

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